Veteran Suicide Update: Man Who Died in Fire Set Blaze Himself, Officials Say

Washington Post

August 16, 2008 – A Waldorf man who died in a fire at his home last Saturday actually set the fire, and he refused to leave the house as it burned, state fire investigators said yesterday.

Fire officials have not officially ruled the death of Dean Lorenzo Turnbull Jr., 28, a suicide, saying they are still unsure about his motives for starting the fire. They said he was receiving treatment for mental-health problems but provided no further details.

Authorities said that about 8 a.m. Aug. 9, Turnbull started a fire among papers in his basement bedroom at the home in the 11000 block of Breezy Point Court. After that, they said, he set another fire in a basement storage room.

Turnbull’s mother, 54, was home at the time. Her account convinced investigators that Turnbull had intentionally stayed.

“She went downstairs, and he was standing in the basement,” said Joe Zurolo, deputy state fire marshal. “She had a brief conversation with him, but he wasn’t going to come out.”

Zurolo declined to provide more details of that conversation. Turnbull’s mother, whom fire investigators identified as Ceciliae Turnbull, escaped the fire without serious injury. Public records also give her name as Ceciline Turnbull. She could not be located to comment yesterday.

After the fire, Dean Turnbull’s body was found in the basement.

“There is no issue as to who started the fires, but we’d certainly like to be able to come up with a motive as to why he would go to this extreme,” Zurolo said. “It’s kind of bizarre.”

After the fire, investigators said that family members had told them Turnbull was an Iraq war veteran.

Yesterday, spokespeople for the U.S. Army said that Turnbull had served, but not in Iraq. He was a vehicle repair specialist serving on active duty from 2002 to 2005, including a stint in Korea.

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